Sunday, May 06, 2007

Politics and the Real World

That was a party political broadcast by the Labour/ Conservative/ Liberal Democratic Party. (Delete as applicable)

I wish.

The People's Republic is currently relocating (that is arrogant blogger speak for I've bought a new house). Unfortunately, as the United Nations do not currently recognise my independent status, I am still forced to pay taxes to the old country. Hitherto, I have managed to avoid paying council tax my claiming political asylum in my parents house, but that is now going to change. On the same day I cast my last vote in Moseley & Kings Heath, I received a council tax bill for my new address (in the Respect stronghold of Sparkbrook if you are interested). Funnily enough, I actually welcomed it (along with my water and energy bills; they do not waste any time do they?). It means I am now contributing to society/ my community and I am only paying the tax because I now own a pretty expensive asset, so it can be regarded as a mark of success (I appreciate not everyone will agree with this analysis, particularly pensioners and those on low-incomes who struggle to pay this badly-collected tax). It has also brought home the reality that my vote in a council election will from now on directly affect me, and my vote seems to matter more. Of course, council elections do affect me in less obvious ways, but there is nothing like a tax to focus the mind.

Of course, thanks to Margaret Thatcher's ridiculous obsession with centralisation, the only important issue now at stake in local elections is how frequently the bins should be collected. My opinion is that if it is going to involve the council, I suggest never. Let us contract our waste disposal from the private sector. We could decide how often we want our rubbish collected rather than have it decided for us, and we could choose exactly how to get rid of our waste e.g. some private companies might decide to provide a service (for a fee of course) where they take all our trash and sort it for recycling. I suspect recycling rates would improve dramatically, and if we did not want our binman to work on Bank Holiday's or pay them £900 for the privilege, we would have the choice to switch our waste removal services to someone else, or stump up the extra cash for the extra service. After all, our gas and electricity is provided by private companies; isn't it ridiculous that garbage collection is still provided by the state?

Of course, this would then leave us paying large amounts of poll tax for very little governing. If we elected a mayor, we would have even less for our councillors to do. Presumably we could then sack two-thirds of our councillors and have an election every 4 years (after all, one councillor per constituency is surely enough?). This will not be a very popular idea amongst councillors, or amongst people who aspire to be councillors, so I guess they will oppose the mayor and keep garbage collections under their responsibility.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work.

There has been a lot of analysis about what the local election results in England, and the devolved assemblies of Scotland and Wales actually mean. The Conservatives believe they are on the path to power, while Labour and the Liberal Democrats are playing down what are generally considered to be disappointing results.

The reality is that council elections prove very little. Everyone know we all vote differently in general elections. It matters little what percentage of the vote the Conservatives got, how many seats that will translate into, who won the popular vote, or all the other party political bickering we have seen on the pages of the political blogosphere. The reality is the biggest winner by far was apathy. The I-could-not-care-less-one-way-or-the-other party romped home with about 75% of the (non-)vote. And I can't even remember them campaigning in my area.

My personal opinion, not necessarily born out by the election results, is that the next general election will result in a hung parliament.

I'll start building the gallows...

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